The World Series of Poker Main Event is down to seven players after a relatively long, exciting and eventful first day of final table play. Scott Blumstein holds a commanding chip lead with 178 million chips while his next closest competitor Benjamin Pollak sits on 77 million. The story of the night was undoubtedly the downfall of John Hesp, who ended with 22 million after holding the chip lead for the majority of play. 

The Brasilia Room at the Rio in Las Vegas was packed with poker fans, the families of the players and other spectators as last year’s champion Qui Nguyen did the honors to get play underway. 

The final table broadcast started with a bang, as John Hesp pulled off a strong bluff versus Antoine Saout, followed by winning the next two hands as well. Hesp chipped up immediately, and the same couldn’t be said for former November Niner Ben Lamb.

On the fourth hand of play, Lamb moved all in from the big blind after Jack Sinclair had raised from the button to 1.6 million. Sinclair called immediately holding ace-queen, and Lamb tabled ace-nine of hearts. The board brought no help, and Lamb was the first to exit, collecting $1,000,000.

“I’m shocked a little bit. My plan was basically to pick up a hand against Jack, because I knew he would be raising, and I picked up ace-nine suited,” Lamb said in the exit interview.

“I felt great about it, but when he snap-called I knew that I was probably down to just three outs.”

“It was so much fun at the table, John was already going crazy and I wished I was still in. As a realist my mind says that I won’t be here a third time, but next year I’m going to give it my all again. If I get deep again, I like my chances.”

Ben Lamb
Ben Lamb awaits the river card on the hand that ultimately spelled the end of his second WSOP Main Event final table run.

With eight players remaining the action continued at a high pace, Hesp being involved in a lot of pots. After just 25 hands, Hesp eclipsed 125,000,000 chips and took a commanding chip lead with that. Antoine Saout found a double up through Sinclair to get back into things, followed by Dan Ott doubling through Blumstein to level the playing field a bit more. 

The early action however was no indication of how the night concluded, as Benjamin Pollak found his groove, chipping up steadily to end with the third biggest stack and 77 million chips. While Pollak chipped up steadily, Blumstein found himself a double up in the biggest pot of the night in a hand that went as follows.

In a single-raised pot, the flop brought ace-seven-five and both Blumstein and Hesp checked. The turn brought a ten, and that’s when the fireworks started. Hesp four-bet shoved, creating a pot worth 156,000,000, and the Brit was left in utter shock when Blumstein showed pocket aces for the nuts. Hesp held ace-ten, and there were no outs for him with just the river to come. 

John Hesp after losing a crucial pot to Scott Blumstein
John Hesp after losing most of his chips versus Scott Blumstein.

After this hand, Hesp and the players at the table quieted down. With Hesp now being one of the short stacks, the atmosphere at the table became a bit more businesslike until Sinclair was knocked out.

The young Brit moved all in from middle position for 15,600,000 and Bryan Piccioli moved all in over the top for 18,750,000. Piccioli jumped up out of his seat and signed to his friends that he had picked up aces, leaving Sinclair looking for help with king-jack suited. The board brought a king, but left Sinclair on the losing side. 

“I didn’t make any mistakes, I think, the cards were not in my favor,” Sinclair said after getting knocked out.

“Amazing, it was quite a surreal experience. It was so fast with only two days of, and it still hasn’t quite hit me,” Sinclair added about the experience of playing at the Main Event final table.

Sinclair took home $1,200,000 for his efforts, and seven players remain heading into the second day of final table play. 

After bagging up a big chip lead, Blumstein said, “It’s overwhelming what’s happening. I didn’t expect tonight to go like this, but I’m thrilled. That hand versus John is pretty brutal for him, I’m just lucky enough to have top set there.”

At 11:00 pm local time in Las Vegas play was halted, and the players will return with the following chip counts as the ESPN and PokerGO live broadcast continues at 6:00 pm PST.

Seat Name Country Chip Count Blinds
1 John Hesp United Kingdom 22,475,000 18
2 Scott Blumstein United States 178,300,000 148
3 Antoine Saout France 14,550,000 12
4 Benjamin Pollak France 77,525,000 64
5 Damian Salas Argentina 15,625,000 13
6 Bryan Piccioli United States 35,750,000 29
7 Dan Ott United States 16,350,000 13

For full information on the ESPN and PokerGO broadcast of the Main Event, click here